Image of test tube

There is a Chinese proverb, 时不待我 or time waits for no-one. Within a blink of an eye, a year in the era of Covid has passed. It is an experience that is remarkably difficult to describe in words. It was more than a year ago, in my previous blog, where I promised to addressed the question of ‘how’ to engage in enterprise, having made the point (I hope) that enterprise is for everyone.

Indeed, in the last year, we have seen the spirit of enterprise is flourishing in Southampton, with journeys of innovation taken by many. Successful innovation to directly tackle the disease itself (in diagnostics, prevention and reduction of disease burden) and many others leading organisational system and process development. Indeed, most of us have innovated in terms of our professional, personal and domestic lives to adapt to the persistent and unpredictability of recent times. But, when we ask the question, how did we achieve what we have achieved? What is the secret formula? We all would have our own little strategies that have been successful in our world. In other words, there is no textbook, no secret recipe for engaging with innovation and enterprise.

Nevertheless, we can improve our odds of success by engaging in a network of development activities. It is through engagement, communication and a shared understanding with our peers and fellow innovators that we find our own path. The only way I can describe the trial-and-error journey is akin to cooking or gardening. You try different recipes, and you find the best one in your hands that suits your taste. You try growing different plants, and you will find the best plants that would flourish in the environment of your garden.

For students, we have a vibrant Student Enterprise Hub led by Sarah Rogers – I would encourage you to take part in the webinars, big ideas competition, boot camps and seek advice where it is offered. For others in the Faculty, take a look at the Enterprise support website. Embedded within the Research & Innovation Services (RIS), you will find information and support available for funding, intellectual property and commercialisation, ethics and contracts. Participate in the events in Future worlds, SET Squared and Wessex AHSN and ASHC.

I would say the best strategy is to listen, assimilate and learn from other people’s journey, take advice from those with experience, and then… forge your own path. You should remember though, in the world of innovation and enterprise, whilst the university will provide and help nurture your initial journey, there is not much in the way of hand-holding thereafter. But, if you have the determination, your dreams may just come to fruition. If you fall along the way, learn from that, brush yourself down and work out how to keep moving forwards. The only ‘failure’ is not learning from the experience.

I had a recent Teams conversation with a colleague who is doing fantastic work in her field and on the verge of really spreading her wings. She then asked me ‘Can I do it?’. I paused for a minute, considering her thought processes behind the question, and answered her with another question ‘Why not?’. I would reiterate what I have said previously in my blog, ‘allow our minds the freedom to explore, innovate and, yes, dream, … visualise what we are capable of creating…’ and last but not least, ‘…relish the journey in making those dreams a reality…’. This is ‘how’ one can partake in Enterprise. Until next time, Ying signing out.

Time waits for no one by Professor Ying Cheong

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